FACES OF MODERNISM – URBAN PLANNING OF SOCIAL HOUSING ESTATES IN GDANSK AND HAMBURG-ALTONA
References: 3rd International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conference on Social Sciences and Arts SGEM2016, www.sgemsocial.org , SGEM2016 Conference Proceedings, ISBN 978-619-7105-54-4 / ISSN 2367-5659, Apr 06-09, Book 4, Vol.2, 265-272 pp, DOI: 10.5593/SGEMSOCIAL2016/HB42/S07.033
This paper aims to compare the modernistic social housing estates built during the interwar period in the Free City of Gdansk and in Altona, the small neighbour of Hamburg. The comparison is based on analysis of the factors that significantly affected the decisions regarding spatial transformations and the development of both cities in that time. These factors include primarily: poor living conditions caused by the explosive growth of cities and industry at the turn of the 19th and 20th century; the growing popularity of Howard’s “garden-city” idea and the emerging new architectural style – Modernism and its interpretations; the tradition of German brick architecture; the personalities, ideological background and professional experience of Hugo Althoff (in Gdansk) and Gustav Oelsner (in Altona), who were authors of new development plans, and urban and architectural designs; the political context and connections of both cities to the German Reich; development of housing cooperatives and social housing; and the growing role of urban greenery, and recreation and sport areas.
The comparison shows that despite many differences, such as the political situation, history, or approach to spatial planning, the effect has often been similar for a number of attributes. The social housing estates of Gdansk and Altona are connected to the idea of providing healthy living conditions, access to sunlight and air, and the creative use of the “garden-city” idea. The attempt to realise the demands of Modernism while preserving architectural and urban tradition, despite different urban and architectural solutions, is common as well.
Althoff and Oelsner shared the characteristics of social awareness, aesthetic sensitivity, and a certain amount of vision that reached many years ahead. Implementation of short-term political agenda was not their intention. The activities of both designers in the interwar period were interrupted in 1933 by the rise to power of the Nazi party. Althoff’s main project – Plan of the Great Gdansk (Bebauungsplan Groβ-Danzig) was never fully implemented. Oelsner, though persecuted due to his Jewish descent, had managed to give his vision of city development a timeless quality that has made Altona one of the most attractive parts of Hamburg even today. Despite these adversities, the social housing estates of the 1920s and 30s enrich the space of modern Gdansk and Hamburg-Altona, constantly recalling the value of the social function of the city.
Keywords: Modernism, social housing, Hugo Althoff, Gustav Oelsner
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